Meatless baked ziti is a simple, four-ingredient pasta bake made with ziti, creamy ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and jarred pasta sauce (or spaghetti sauce). This vegetarian baked ziti can't get any simpler, it's practically fool-proof. The best part of this dish is that it will likely become a family favorite.
If you'd like a version of this recipe with Italian sausage and zucchini, check out this Ricotta and Sausage Baked Ziti.
What I Love About This Recipe
My mother made this classic meatless baked ziti throughout my childhood, and it is my favorite baked pasta dish. This is not Italian but more like an Americanized pasta bake that mixes convenience, taste, and simple ingredients. This meatless baked ziti recipe is a great recipe for the whole family.
- Ziti noodles: Sometimes I can't find ziti noodles at the store. Use penne pasta, rigatoni, or any other pasta for this baked pasta recipe.
- Pasta sauce (or spaghetti sauce): We are taking the easy way out here, so jarred pasta sauce or spaghetti sauce is the way to go. Jarred tomato sauce is different from plain crushed tomatoes or plain tomato sauce. Make sure you get the jar ready to use pasta sauce.
- Ricotta cheese: Use full-fat or reduced-fat ricotta cheese. Do not use cottage cheese!
- Shredded mozzarella: Grate a block of mozzarella cheese or purchase pre-grated mozzarella cheese.
- Parmesan cheese (optional): Grated parmesan is possibly the perfect thing for any pasta dish.
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Meatless Baked Ziti
Boil the pasta as per the package directions until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta. Grate the mozzarella cheese in a large bowl (unless you use packaged shredded mozzarella cheese). Spoon half of a 24-ounce jar of pasta sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish (9" x 13" or similar). This is about 1.5 cups of pasta sauce.
Spoon half of the cooked pasta. Add pasta sauce, then ricotta cheese, and shredded mozzarella.
Repeat the layering in the same order: tomato sauce, pasta, tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, and shredded mozzarella cheese on top. Place the ziti pasta bake in the middle of a 375℉ (190℃) preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
Serve this easy meatless baked ziti with a side salad.
Tips and Tricks
- If the cheese starts to brown too quickly, place a sheet of aluminum foil on top.
- This easy layered pasta dish is a perfect make-ahead meal, especially for a family gathering.
- Make this easy-baked ziti recipe with jarred pasta sauce or spaghetti sauce instead of making a tomato sauce from scratch. This will save some time on busy weeknights.
Variations and Substitutions
- Add ground beef or ground chicken by cooking the meat in a separate skillet. Spoon the meat mixture over the pasta while assembling the pasta bake.
- Prepare a meat sauce from scratch, like the ragu sauce in this Italian Lasagna Recipe.
- Add ground turkey sausage like this Ricotta and Sausage Baked Ziti.
- Make a cheese mixture blend. Try different kinds of cheeses like parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, Gruyere, pecorino romano, or provolone.
- Substitute any pasta for ziti: penne, rigatoni, or even macaroni elbows.
- 9" x 13" casserole dish
- Stovetop pot and strainer
Store this easy-baked ziti recipe in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Some casserole dishes come with a lid, which is perfect for this recipe.
Make sure you use enough pasta sauce. Spoon the pasta sauce below and above the pasta layers.
No! There are meatless ziti recipes, like this one, that uses ziti, cheese, ricotta, and pasta sauce.
Yes, most pasta bakes are comprised of boiled pasta. This ensures the pasta doesn't dry out as it's baked in the oven.
Join The Tribe
- 1 lb ziti pasta
- 2 - 24 ounce jars of pasta sauce total 48 ounces
- 1 lb of shredded mozzarella
- 15 ounces of ricotta cheese
- grated parmesan cheese optional
- Heat the oven to 375℉ (190℃).
- Boil the ziti pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
- In a 9" x 13" dish, add ½ a jar of pasta sauce on the bottom layer, then add ½ of the boiled pasta. Follow that by ½ a jar of pasta sauce, ½ the ricotta cheese, ½ the mozzarella cheese, ½ a jar of pasta sauce, the remaining ziti pasta, and the rest of the tomato pasta sauce, the remaining ricotta cheese, and the rest of the shredded mozzarella. Add a little bit of shredded parmesan on top if you fancy.
- Place the ziti pasta bake in the middle of a 375℉ (190℃) oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
- Substitute penne, rigatoni, or any other type of pasta noodle for ziti noodles.